If someone asked you, “what is the book of Micah about,” what would you say? Would you have any idea? One of my burdens in our current sermon series on the Minor Prophets is to help people understand these important books of Scripture. They are not throwaway books, but crucial to understand major truths about the character of God and the plan of redemption.
So what’s Micah about? The prophet answers, perhaps more clearly and simply than any other book of Scripture, what God wants from us. He says clearly in Micah 6:8, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
But that verse alone cannot be understood apart from the form and context of the book as a whole. Micah is a collection of three prophecies, each which begins with a command to listen up:
Those three pleas to pay attention are like the crests of three waves. If you read what follows each section you’ll notice three waves of God’s wrath threatening to capsize the rebellious people of God.
God’s wrath against the Northern and Southern kingdoms of Israel can be summarized in Micah 2:3, Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster.
But just like an incoming wave recedes to give the beachgoer a glimpse of wet sand, each wave of wrath in Micah recedes to give the reader a glimpse of God’s promised grace for His rebellious people. At the forefront of each glimpse of grace is the image of a Shepherd-King.
In Micah 2:12-13, God promises a Shepherd-King who will gather His scattered people. In Micah 4-5, God promises a Shepherd King who will restore the kingdom to a place of unimaginable peace and prosperity. In Micah 4:14-20, God promises a Shepherd-King who will forgive His wayward people.
But who is this Shepherd-King? The very fact that Micah prophesies a Shepherd-King would likely conjure up images of the great king David in the images of Micah’s hearers. He was, after all, the most famous shepherd-king in world history. Perhaps that theory would’ve been confirmed when Micah envisions this king in Micah 5:2, But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, . . .
David, of course, was Bethlehem’s most famous son. Could it be that David was coming back again? Could it be their greatest king would return to usher in a new golden age? Micah continues.. . .
. . . whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. . . .
Nope, not David! Whoever Micah is talking about existed long before David. Who is this Shepherd-King? The Gospel of Matthew makes it clear that the wise men believed this was none other than Christ Himself. He is the One who gathers, restores, and forgives. And He is the One that the book of Micah is ultimately pointing to.
So what’s the book of Micah all about? It turns out that old Sunday School answer is the correct one. It’s all about Jesus.